Youngstown State University may be represented at the Academy Awards this year, if art major Kjerstyna Davis gets her way.
In November, mtvU, Seth MacFarlane and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences conducted the Oscar Experience College Search.
The contest required students to make a 30-second video that described their hypothetical contributions to the film industry. The top six students will win the ultimate prize: They’ll appear live on the Oscars telecast and deliver Oscar statues to celebrity presenters during the show.
Davis is currently in first place because of the large amount of video views she has received.
Starting out as an education major, Davis didn’t start drawing until last year. Her artwork received positive feedback from family, friends and even her adviser.
“After I showed [my adviser] my drawing, she immediately got on the phone with the art department and told them about the drawing I had shown her,” Davis said. “She then advised me to change my major. She didn’t realize how talented I was, and neither did I.”
Since entering the contest this month, Davis has been self-promoting herself via Facebook and Twitter. She’s garnered the majority of her views from Facebook friends, as well as from family and friends who’ve been sharing her links and spreading the word.
“The main idea of the contest is to give college kids the opportunity of a lifetime and to get your name out there in the industry,” Davis said. “This is a huge break for me because of the aspirations I have for my future.”
In her video, Davis states that her intent is to “provide enjoyment in the hearts of children as they develop into adulthood, with aspirations of one day working for Pixar as an art director.”
“I don’t want to limit myself too much,” she said. “That way, it allows me to be flexible with anything and have experience with different types of genres, but Pixar is definitely my dream.”
Davis said she wouldn’t be where she is today if it wasn’t for Claudia Berlinski, her faculty adviser.
“KJ is incredibly enthusiastic and highly motivated as a student and artist,” Berlinski said. “She is really driven by her life goal to becoming a part of the Pixar animation team.”
Berlinski added that Davis’ attitude is refreshing and extremely motivated — so much so that it’s often hard to keep up with her.
Besides the encouragement of her teachers, KJ also gets extra motivation from her boyfriend, Nick Csernick.
“One thing about KJ is she never lets anything get in her way,” Csernick said. “Her passion for movies and her motivation makes her the perfect candidate for this contest. If there is one person that deserves this more than anyone, it is her.”
Even if she doesn’t win, Davis said she’ll never stop striving for her dream of one day being in the film industry.
“It’s a contest, and my hope is to win and start to get my career on the right path early,” Davis said. “But if not, then I’ll continue to work on my skills and keep networking and building my contacts.”